It was November 20, 1998, when an unprecedented international coalition of astronomers, rocket engineers and researchers saw many years of collaboration, came to fruition when the first component of the International Space Station was launched. Since then, the largest ever built spacecraft has hosted numerous astronauts, experiments, and other boats. Here are some notable moments in the history of this inspirational mission and decades.
1984: Reagan proposes ISS – without Russia
The space station will initially be a US effort, but soon it became a collaboration with Canada, Japan and Europe, excluding the USSR. American-Russian relations have been tense then, as you may well remember, and although many in the space industry preferred to work together, the political climate did not allow this. However, the initial work has begun.
1993: Clinton adds Russia to the bill
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent rejuvenation of international relations prompted President Bush to bring them into the program in a limited manner as a supplier and guest on a transfer mission. The following year, however, President Clinton endowed him with the announcement that Russia would be a full partner. This was both a practical decision and a political decision: Russia's involvement would save billions of euros, but it also contributed to Russia's readmission with other issues, such as ICCM's efforts to prevent proliferation. In any case, the drawings have finally begun to be built.
1998: The first components, Zarya and Unit, are launched in orbit
Though persona non grata at first, Russia had the privilege to launch the first basic ISS component on November 20, 1998, the anniversary we celebrate today. The functional cargo block in Zarya is still there, still in use, forming the gateway to the Russian side of the station.
A month later, Space Shuttle Endeavor took off from the 39A Launch Complex (I was there) carrying Unit 1's Node. And this one is there, attached to Zarya.
2000: The first of many long-term occupants arrive
Almost exactly one year after Zarya climbed, the first astronauts settled on the ISS – the first of 230 people who have so far approached the orbital structure at home. Bill Shepherd was NASA the first representative, flying with the cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev; they will stay for about 141 days.
2003: The collapse of Columbia is delaying expansion
The fatal destruction of the Columbia spacecraft since rejoining the mission after the 28th mission has been quite tragic that other missions have been cleared for over two years. Since these were the primary means of the United States to add and maintain the ISS, this responsibility was passed to Roscosmos until the launch of the vessels was resumed in 2005; crew releases will not be resumed by mid-2006.
2007: Kibo climbs
Numerous modules have been added to the ISS over the years, but Kibo in Japan is the largest. It took several missions to deliver all the pieces, and it was possible only through previous missions that extended the solar power production capacity of the station. Kibo contains a ton of reconfigurable space accessible inside the pressure and was popular for both private and public experiments that need to be done in space.
2010: Enter the Dome
If Kibo is the largest component, the Cupola is probably the most famous. The giant seven-window bull looks like science-fiction (especially the front end of the Millennium Falcon) and is the place for the most striking picture of the station, both inside and outside.
2014: Excess of time
With the Dome instead, capturing the images on Earth from this stunning vision has become easier – especially with the ever-increasing digital cameras brought on board by talented photographers such as Alexander Gerst and Don Pettit. The many pictures taken out of this diaphragm have been formed in countless beautiful moments of time and desktop backgrounds as well as witnesses of incredible phenomena such as aurora and lightning storms from a new and valuable perspective. It's hard to pick only one, but "The Outside My Window" from Don Pettit above is a fabulous example, and the Gerst 4K compilation is another.
2015: Gennady Padalka sets time in space
During the fifth flight to space, Gennady Padalka set a world record for most of the time in space: When he returned to Earth, a total of 878 days was recorded and changed. It's long before the competition, which is almost exclusively Russian – although NASA's Peggy Whitson is right up there, with 666 days on three missions.
2016: Chinese station calling ISS, please pick up
It's hardly crowded in space, but it can get alone there. So it's good for those who have the honor of flying to get to each other. In this case, Chinese Taikonaut Jing Haipeng recorded an unimaginable video message from Chinese Tiangong 2 space station, welcoming the ISS crew and praising the global co-operation community that makes it all possible.
2018: The Soyuz accident threatens long-lasting occupation
A mission equipped with ISS with astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin encountered a serious mistake during the launch, fortunately generating injuries or deaths but shaking the space community. The rocket and capsule from Soyuz had more than have been proven over the years, but there was no risk to human life, and future missions have been postponed. It was possible that for the first time since it was first introduced, the ISS would be empty because its crew left without substitutes on the way.
Fortunately, the investigation has been completed and a new mission is scheduled for early December, which will prevent such a historical absence.
2019? The first mission of the commercial crew and beyond
Russia has taken exclusive responsibility for all crew launches for years; The US intends to separate itself from this addiction by encouraging a new generation of crew capable of satisfying and overcoming the safety and reliability of the Soyuz system. SpaceX and Boeing plan both twenty-twenty flights for their respective Crew Dragon and Starliner capsules – although gliding and new regulatory attention can delay the same people.
ISS has a bright future, despite the 20 years of continuous operation. It is funded more or less by 2025, but new space stations in Russia and China are being talked about, both, while the US is pursuing its monthly orbit for the next big effort. It's hard to imagine space now without a full ISS in it, however, and launching costs can mean that its life can be extended even more and at lower costs. We hope that ISS has two decades ahead of him.